Posted on: May 16, 2024

How to Pour and Measure Drinks

How to Pour and Measure Drinks

If you’re a new bartender, you may be realizing that mixing drinks on the job is a bit different than making cocktails for your friends. One of these differences is the need to serve predictable amounts of alcohol in each drink. This is important for both financial and legal reasons.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the techniques and tools essential for precise and impressive drink preparation.

How Many Ounces Are in a Shot?

In the U.S., standard shots are 1.5 oz, but not all shots are “standard.”

There are a few different types of pours. Pony shots are smaller and often used in mixed drinks. Rocks shots are a little bigger and intended for measuring a serving of alcohol served straight. They’re more commonly referred to as a “finger” of spirits.

Type of Pour Volume (oz) Volume (mL)
Jigger shot 1.5 oz Just under 45 mL
Pony shot 1 oz Just under 30 mL
Double shot 3 oz Just under 90 mL
Rocks shot 2 oz Just under 60 mL

Amateur mixologists often use a shot glass or a measuring cup at home, but in the bartending world, you want the right tool for the job. Enter the jigger.

What Is a Jigger and How Do You Use It?

Bar jiggers are common measuring tools behind the bar. They help you measure alcoholic ingredients accurately and consistently by the shot for uniform service.

Jiggers come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from half an ounce to 2.5 ounces.

Dual-sided jiggers have cups of two different sizes for versatility and efficiency. Often, double jiggers are designed to have a jigger shot on one side and a pony shot on the other, but it can be more efficient to have a double shot or rocks shot jigger if you’re serving doubles or straight spirits often.

How to Pour Without Measuring

If you want to pour without measuring, often referred to as “free pouring,”you’ll need a speed pourer. This device is a curved metal spout attached to a rubber stopper. They ensure a steady, consistent flow of alcohol by controlling the amount of air that enters the bottle.

Once the pour spout is in place, you’ll hold the bottle completely upside-down, not at an angle, to ensure a good flow. Counting to four in a steady cadence will give you a half ounce of alcohol. That means three “counts” (to four) equals a jigger shot, and two “counts” equals a pony shot.

As you begin to practice free pouring, you’ll need to measure your attempts so that you get a sense of the flow volume and counting cadence that results in an actual half-ounce.

Why Is It Important to Measure Shots?

Free pouring may look cool and facilitate faster service in a busy bar, but it’s inherently imprecise, especially for inexperienced bartenders.

Using a jigger guarantees a standard liquor pour. This makes inventory more predictable and, more importantly, ensures that you’re not accidentally overserving guests. In a world where you can get sued for contributing to a drunk driving accident, that’s important.

Responsible Alcohol Service: More than Measuring

Using measurements to add a predictable amount of alcohol to each drink is an important part of responsible alcohol service, but bartenders need to know a lot more.

If you sell or serve alcohol to the public, you need to be familiar with relevant laws: local, state, and federal. You need to understand how to spot a fake ID, a third-party sale, or an overserved patron. You need to be educated in practical strategies for avoiding illegal sales to minors or intoxicated persons.

That’s what the online, self-paced courses at TIPS can give you. Enroll today!